MYD is currently tracking the negotiations on the Paris Agreement Work Programme

United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok

UNFCCC climate negotiations resumed today in Bangkok, kicking off with opening plenaries for SBSTA 48-2, SBI 48-2 and APA 1-6. But why are we in Bangkok?

In a typical year, intersessional negotiations are held in Bonn between COPs. These additional sessions allow for negotiations to take place in the subsidiary bodies, namely SBSTA, SBI and APA. This year a second intersessional conference has been organized in Bangkok due to the urgent nature of having to complete the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PA) by the end of 2018.

Since parties adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015, they have been working on drafting guidelines to implement and operationalize the PA, beginning in 2020. With that deadline approaching quickly, parties are feeling the pressure to deliver texts to be negotiated and agreed on at COP24 in Katowice this December.

While this session in Bangkok is the result of the inability of parties to come to a definitive negotiation text at the last intersessional in May, the parties have also displayed the willingness and motivation to complete the PAWP on time.

10 MYD members are in Bangkok, tracking the negotiations at SB48-2

So what needs to be done in Bangkok?

As negotiations in SBSTA, SBI and APA get underway today, parties will only be discussing agenda items relating to the PAWP. This is so that there can be a strict focus on the most pressing issues that are holding back its completion. The absence of side events and UNFCCC-sanctioned actions at this session further stresses the importance of making complete and strong progress on the negotiations on the PAWP.

Finance is proving to be one of the crucial issues that will be negotiated here, specifically in SBI agenda item 15, relating to Article 9.5, which calls for developed countries to provide adequate information on a roadmap of potential financial contributions, as well as SBSTA agenda item 13, relating to Article 9.7, the modalities for the accounting of financial contributions provided and mobilized. There is the expectation that the African group will continue to ask for more robust text on Art. 9.5, something they have been adamant about since COP23 last year.

Finance is going to be key as it is most commonly seen as a factor in building trust. With higher financial flows, or even commitments to providing more quantitative and qualitative information on potential funds in the future, it would go a long way in galvanizing parties from both developing and developed nations to push for higher ambitions.

NDC enhancement will also be negotiated this week, with features and the accounting of NDCs, yet to be agreed on. Along with that, there is a question mark on the general timeline of NDC periods. Agreeing on these common timeframes around the submission and reporting of NDCs over a short interval of five years is crucial to opening up transparency on the collective contributions of all parties and will better push for stronger ambition in each iteration of NDCs.

The one thing I’ve noticed today, however, is the lack of follow through in the themes from COP23 specifically global stocktake (GST) and the Talanoa Dialogue. A lack of emphasis on GST may be a result of good and timely negotiations in May, however, the Talanoa Dialogue is more important than ever. The process, which involves collecting stories from parties, CSOs, and non-party stakeholders, is meant to build understanding and boost ambition for stronger climate action. It is still underway and should last until COP24 where it should see some sort of political input. If not, this all will be have been for nothing.

Lastly, where does Loss & Damage sit within this Bangkok session? All parties are scrambling to complete the PAWP in time and it feels as if L&D is being left behind. It’s been reiterated by many that the PAWP should be inclusive and an all-round package. No one stream should take precedence over the other. With L&D being tied to the WIM, it will be interesting to see how it fits into the PAWP.

All I can hope for, as we begin the week, is that parties do not waste time and start serious work in completing the PAWP in time to facilitate good negotiations and a decision in COP24. If not, we run the risk of accepting very loose and weak text should we run out of time at the end of this week. And that would just be doing a disservice to the Paris Agreement and its adoption three years ago.

Written by Mike Campton
Peer reviewed by Daniel Teoh